It is no secret that in today’s world, the holiday season is often associated with indulgence. The narrative for numerous years has been to eat plentifully, give generously and in many cases drink a lot of alcohol. This holiday indulgence tends to be completely normalized on a personal and societal level, so if one does not participate there may be questions, intrusions or an attempt to break down boundaries that are essential to our wellbeing.
In our culture, there seems to be a big association with joy and pleasure being linked to indulgence; when for many of us, it is the complete opposite. For many folks in recovery, whether new or seasoned, this can be a frightening and alienating time. The good news is that people far and wide have been navigating these challenging times for a while, and we have some tips for you to do the same.
Tips for Navigating the Holiday Season
- Remind yourself why you are in recovery. The gift of recovery is continuously unfolding, and to remind yourself why you are on this path is an important part. How does being sober make you feel? How has recovery changed your life? What has recovery given you that the prior path could not? Write down some of these answers to really reflect on how recovery has supported you and your life.
- Come prepared and plan ahead. Drive yourself to the gathering so that you have the opportunity to leave when it feels right, bring a non-alcoholic drink to enjoy, prepare answers to questions that might be asked of you, and keep reminding yourself that you are in control of your own destiny.
- Amp up the self-care. Self-care is always undeniably important, yet during the holiday season, it is even more essential that we take the extra time to honor our mind, body, and Soul. Take an extra-long bath, use the massage oils that have been collecting dust in your bathroom, go for a long nature walk; you simply cannot be our most present, aware selves if you are depleted.
- Don’t forget about your regular routine. Something as simple as a daily routine can either make or break how you feel for the majority of our days, and it can be easy to forget how important these are when all of the holiday obligations come around. Sticking to the practices that feel right for you, whatever that may be (ex: meditation and/or prayer practice in the mornings, daily yoga practice, daily walks, regular meal times, journaling, etc.) is essential for staying grounded during the somewhat turbulent holiday season. Something as simple as proper nutrition and hydration can be a huge part of how you feel mentally and physically, so be sure to feed your body and mind the good stuff.
- Keep your support close. Our support systems are always going to be life-saving, but during the holidays they can be even more essential. Being seen and heard by the ones who understand you is incredibly important, so having a friend, sponsor or therapist on call is a good plan if the family gathering becomes too much.
- Find ways to celebrate the season that feels good for you. Whether that be starting a new tradition of volunteering at a local shelter or having a small sober gathering with your closest friends or cooking your new favorite dessert to bring and share with your loved ones; finding new ways to celebrate the holidays that fit your current lifestyle can be helpful to rekindle the joy within it all.
- Know your limits and avoid triggers. We all have that one family member who criticizes our career choice or questions our love life. Perhaps you have family members who insist on us having the holiday drink, and berate you with questions if you say no. It is important to walk into these situations with boundaries, and recognize that you are entitled to live the life that you have chosen. It is our birthright. So when or if a family member questions your choices, know that it is OK to walk away from a conversation or simply respond by saying, “I don’t really want to talk about this right now.” Honor your boundaries and limits first and foremost.
- Enjoy the season! Remember, even though the season has been slightly hijacked by this idea of indulgence, consumerism and now a pandemic, try to remember that the season has and will always be about celebrating love. No matter what your beliefs may be, it is a time to come together with the people you love most (in-person or virtually) and truly express gratitude for what you have in life.
The holidays can be tough for anyone, but when we are navigating our own recovery there are sometimes extra challenges. Keep your support system, sponsor, or therapist close, and remember that your sobriety is your top priority.
At Authentic Recovery Center, we encourage everyone to honor their needs and boundaries during the turbulent holiday season. We know and understand how difficult this time can be and encourage anyone to reach out for support when needed. Contact us at Authentic Recovery Center today. We are here to answer any questions and help you on your recovery journey. Call us today at (866) 786-1376.